Prednisone is a medication commonly called “steroid”. It is similar to a corticosteroid hormone produced by our body. It is used for the treatment of some rheumatological conditions and in many other fields of medicine. It works by reducing inflammation and ¬†suppressing activated immune system.

Our body produces approximately 7.5 mg of cortisone a day. The oral dose of prednisone vary form a few to 50-60 mg a day. Sometimes it is given through the IV line or injections. It is usually given once a day and most often in the morning but there are other schedules as well. The effect of prednisone is felt in a few days (occasionally in a few hours). Other medications used in rheumatology are safely given along with prednisone.

There are some side effects of prednisone. It is considered that higher doses of prednisone taken for prolong periods of time would more likely to cause side effects compared to short courses of small doses of prednisone. Not all patients would develop side effects and many of them will disappear after discontinuation of medication.

Side effects of prednisone are listed here:

  • elevated moods with insomnia;
  • increased appetite with weight gain (swelling of face and upper part of the back);
  • blurry vision;
  • elevation of the blood pressure;
  • upset stomach;
  • rise in the blood sugar;
  • irregular periods;
  • decreased resistance to infection;

Long term use of prednisone can also cause:

  • easy bruising and prolong wound healing;
  • cataracts and glaucoma;
  • osteoporosis (fragile bones);
  • muscle weakness;
  • osteonecrosis or damage ¬†of the bone that can present as a bony pain (rare).

To minimize the side effects of prednisone patients are asked to take prednisone after meals, follow a diet to prevent weight gain, take calcium/vitamin D to prevent osteoporosis and have regular follow ups with the doctor.

Prednisone is safe for use in pregnancy.

Your pharmacist will give you the full list of the side effects when you buy the medication. Please, advise your pharmacist about other medications you take.